Listen, there's no doubt that not everyone is sold on the radical, snarly new look of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee. But one thing's for certain, its crimped-in-the-middle seven-slot grille and squinty headlamps will look decidedly intimidating filling up rearview mirrors nationwide – at least on upper-end models like the Trailhawk shown above. But the reborn Cherokee may well become even more intimidating if new rumors have a foundation in reality. According to the generally very-well-connected Chrysler fansite Allpar, an SRT variant is coming.
It's probably safe to assume that all-wheel drive and the company's new nine-speed automatic would be part of a high-performance Cherokee, but what gets wedged in the engine bay is a matter of discussion. Allpar hypothesizes about everything from a force-fed 3.0-liter Pentastar V6 with 375 to 410 horsepower (depending on whether it goes single or twin turbo), or even a 400+ horsepower application of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine from Maserati, but it's hard to envision the beancounters approving such a scenario. There's also the possibility of this Jeep getting a version of the company's 2.4-liter turbo four with 300 horsepower, but the 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 that will be available in the standard Cherokee already makes 271 horsepower, and SRT has a history of making sure its models have greater power differentials than such a drivetrain scenario would suggest.
High-power, road-biased utility vehicles are nothing new for Jeep (or the industry at large), but a Cherokee SRT would appear to have no natural competitive set to line up against. If the hi-po Cherokee gets the green light, it will be interesting to see whether that turns out to be an advantage or an impediment to the model's chances for success.